(Note: The video above shows a car running into an animal. You may not want to click play if you're afraid of roadkill.)
Does a groundhog on the track qualify as "debris"?
During practice for Sunday's Pocono 400, a groundhog made it onto the surface of the Pocono Raceway at the entrance to the Tunnel Turn. Stephen Leicht had just completed a practice run and was using the cut-through on the inside of the tunnel turn to stay out of the way of practice traffic. And while Leicht was avoiding cars on the track, he didn't avoid the groundhog, which had ambled onto the apron from the middle of the track in front of Leicht's car. As you can see from the video above, Leicht's car ensured that the groundhog made a swift, uh, journey, to the confines of the infield.
We can only guess what happened to the groundhog after that.
Creatures appearing at Pocono is nothing new, thanks to the massive 2.5-mile track's location nestled in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. (There's a wooded area just outside the track.) Though Jeff Burton's obliteration of two birds happened at Indianapolis, Pocono has seen everything from chicken to deer to a drunk fan on the track. While the chicken survived — it somehow ended up on the track during a race, necessitating NASCAR officials to throw a caution — and the drunk fan climbed the fence, the deer preceded the gopher in Pocono perishing after being struck by Neil Bonnett.